In the wild, Cockatoos eat mainly palm nuts, seeds, and fruits. Since these birds are very active, they will need nutrients rich in calories, protein, and fat, among others.
Fortunately, current supplements have opened up new and healthy options for pet owners. In this section, you will be guided on how to properly feed your Cockatoos and learn the amount of food and nutritional requirements they need.
Nutritional Needs Of Cockatoos
Feeding your Cockatoos is not that complicated. However, their activity level must be taken into account to meet their nutritional diet. They are not picky eaters, but as mentioned above it is highly recommended that Cockatoos be given a variety of foods for balanced nutrition.
As much as possible, avoid giving only the same type of food, such as a pellet diet or a seed-only diet; It can result in a nutrient deficiency and can lead to illness due to its limited nutrients, which could also shorten your Cockatoo’s life expectancy.
Types Of Food For Your Cockatoos
Seeds And Pellets
Seeds are an important part of any bird’s diet; They eat seeds naturally in the wild and it is also a good source of carbohydrates. However, the seeds alone can cause complications because they are naturally fatty.
Although some Cockatoos need fatty acids for their skin development, they still need to be tempered. It is not advisable to mix seeds with pellets and feed them immediately, although many people recommend it.
For best results, offer seeds first for a few days, then slowly incorporate the pellets into the diet until your Cockatoo is well adjusted.
The key is to give it in moderation. Feed them at least 1/8 – 1/4 cup of the fortified parrot mix or diet, the amount can vary depending on how much your Cockatoo can consume.
Vegetables contain phytonutrients that enhance the body’s immune system which prevents disease. Vegetables are also a rich source of natural fiber for the body. However, keep in mind that you should feed your Cockatoos vegetables in moderation to avoid diarrhea and to make sure they are thoroughly washed before giving it to your bird.
Below is the list of highly recommended vegetables for Cockatoos:
- Beet and leaves
- Cauliflower and leaves
- Swiss chard
- Chinese cabbage
- Dandelion leaves
- Fennel and leaves, stems, seeds
- Lettuce (darker is better)
- Mustard greens
- Peas / Peas / Green beans / Snow Peas
- Peppers (all types)
- Radishes and vegetables
- Sweet potato/yam (cooked / pair boiled)
- Pumpkin (all types)
- Tomatoes (offer sparingly)
- Turnips and turnip greens
Fruits are healthy and sweet; They also provide natural sources of sugars for parrots. It is recommended that you only offer bite-size fruits and remove the bones or seeds from the fruits to prevent the Cockatoos from choking.
Below is a list of fruits that are highly recommended by veterinarians for your Cockatoos:
- Apples (seedless)
- Apricots (seedless)
- Cherries (seedless)
- Coconut (feed sparingly due to fat content)
- Custard apple
- Dragon fruit
- Mango (without seeds)
- Melon (cantaloupe, watermelon, honeydew)
- Nectarine (without seeds)
- Olive (fresh)
- Passion fruit
- Peach (without seeds)
- Pear (without seeds)
- Plum (seedless)
- Rowan berries
- Schizandra berries
Important reminder: Offer fruits and vegetables daily or every 2-3 days. As a precaution, if your Cockatoo did not consume all the fruit you gave it, remove all its remains from the cage to avoid the risk of eating a spoiled fruit.
As mentioned above, some fortified parrot mix or diet already contains essential vitamins. Before buying a good pellet mix or picking greens for your Cockatoos, you should be aware that vitamin A is one of the most essential vitamins that birds need.
Vitamin A improves vision and can also boost immunity. Eggs and meat are good sources of vitamin A, as well as different types of vegetables such as carrots, kale, broccoli, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, and squash.
Too much or not enough vitamin A can potentially leave your Cockatoos vulnerable to disease. Since Cockatoos are not all the same, it is best to check with your avian vet first to find out the correct amount of vitamin A for your pet.
Cockatoos need high levels of protein or amino acids to build their tissues, feathers, muscles, and skin. Birds in general can produce their own amino acids. However, there are some amino acids such as threonine, tryptophan, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, and valine that some Cockatoos are unable to produce or maintain in their body.
Fortunately, the sources of these essential amino acids are available in today’s bird diet products.
Here is the list of recommended proteins for your pet Cockatoos to feed on:
- Beans (cook small amounts needed)
- Chicken (cooked, preferably shredded not fried)
- Eggs (cooked / hard-boiled)
- Nuts (all types)
- Seeds (bird seeds provide protein)
- Turkey (cooked, preferably shredded)
- Meal Worms (feed occasionally)
The main function of calcium is to strengthen the bones and it also allows calcification of eggshells in birds. In captivity, you can provide calcium in the form of a cuttlebone or calcium treat attached inside your birdcage.
You can also offer a powdered supplement, such as a packaged oyster shell, that can be added directly to your pet Cockatoo’s food. Follow the directions on the supplement package. Calcium is also vital for muscle contraction, blood clotting, and heart functions.
It is optional for your Cockatoos to be exposed to UVB light for at least 3-4 hours a day; This can aid in optimal physiological use of the calcium you are giving your bird.
Hydration is as important for birds as it is for humans, especially during hot conditions to avoid dehydration; Cockatoos can drink 10 times their normal water intake during the summer.
They must be given access to clean, fresh, and freshwater. Do not use tap water because it can make the bird sick, as well as distilled water, instead use unflavored bottled drinking water or bottled natural spring water.
If tap water is used, treat it with a dechlorination treatment. The inability to provide fresh water to pet birds can cause an upset stomach with excruciating stomach pain.
Water is vital for maintaining cells, digestion, feathers, and metabolism.
All water given to birds for drinking, as well as water used for misting, soaking, or bathing, must be 100% free of chlorine and heavy metals.
As mentioned above, you could give your Cockatoos a treat every time they do something right, like performing tricks or just learning to talk. You can feed them different types of nuts like almonds, macadamias, and walnuts. You can also give easy-to-digest, bite-sized fruits, or homemade treats from time to time.
Some examples of homemade treats are carrot muffins (minus the sugar), popcorn, corn, unsalted pretzel sticks with fruit, and brown rice with berries.
They will surely love to eat something appetizing and this is also positive reinforcement for the bird, especially during training.
Toxic Foods To Avoid Giving Cockatoos
Some foods are specifically toxic to your Cockatoos or any type of bird in general. Make sure your bird never eats one of the toxic items listed below, and make sure your bird is checked by an avian vet from time to time.
These harmful foods are just as important as selecting the right supplements and foods for your bird.
The following list of foods is highly toxic to your Cockatoos:
- Tomato leaves
- Dried beans
- Chocolate (very allergic)
- Junk food
- Apple and cherry seeds
- Milk and dairy products
- French fries
- Marbled meat
- Butter peanut